Betaed: By the always amazing Em (A-Blackwinged-Bird). I don't know how I ever wrote without her, and I never want to have to find out. Girl, you are the best!
Indirect acknowledgement to: Connex (Melbourne's metropolitan train operator) for delaying my train one evening and allowing my overly active imagination to come up with this story. Who knew plot bunnies hid in subway tunnels!? All I can say is thanks Connex… you can delay my train any day.
Want to print this story to read off-line?: Go to my profile page, click on 'homepage' and you will find yourself at my Supernatural fanfiction site where I house my stories and provide a PDF (Adobe Acrobat) downloadable version of all completed work.
read… or is that ride?! ;-)
BLOOD ON THE TRACKS
"This is a bust, Sammy," Dean said, his voice low. "We kick this aluminium sardine at the next station and shag ass back to the car."
"It's still early." Sam hitched the sleeve of his jacket up. "Not even midnight. The last train leaves South Station at 12:30."
Dean braced himself against the swaying roll of the moving subway train and leaned forward. "We've been riding this set of rails for four nights. It looks like were marking territory." He lowered his voice further. "Given the way this caboose from hell stinks, I'd say someone's taking the whole marking territory thing just a little too literally."
"People are dying, Dean. What if they were alive before being hit by a train? Trapped in deep in the subway, maybe injured and with no way out." Sam's expression grew pained. "Can you imagine that?"
Dean could and he winced. "We don't know what happens, Sam. Maybe the rail authority is right. Maybe they're suicides."
"Every year, to the same date, give or take a day. And what makes the train stop each time? The remains are so deep in the tunnel system that the victims can't possibly have walked in of their own free will."
"It's one person each year. Maybe they walk through, or they bail from the train when it stops."
"Nine people over nine years. That's a lot of train bailing and coincidental suicides."
"You really think that?"
Dean shrugged. "I don't know. It's not as though anything has happened yet. Isn't the window of opportunity closing?"
Sam sighed and scratched at the back of his neck. "Another couple of hours is hardly going to kill us."
"Maybe not, but some bloodshed seems likely." Dean looked past his brother to the trio of deliberately belligerent youth who stood in the middle doorway of the carriage, clothed in designer rip-offs and matching skull caps. They all bore a small circular tattoo on the middle finger. Gang members or wannabes. Regardless, the Crap-Caboose was their turf, and Dean and Sam had not been given formal invitations.
"Don't you mean still? They've been shadowing us ever since we boarded the Eau-de-urine Express three hours ago." He abruptly stood. "C'mon, next carriage." He snagged Sam's jacket and tugged him to his feet. "Just whose idea was this riding the rails gig anyway?"
"Oh." Dean pursed his lips. "Great, well, it was a bad one."
They stepped into the last carriage, the interconnecting doors closed with a soft whoosh behind them.
"Fuck off," the lone, and clearly inebriated, passenger announced. He stood, swayed and paled, then landed with a soundless splat to the seat he had just vacated. Dean's nose twitched at the foul stench and his lips curved in disgust.
"Whatcha lookin' at?" the drunk said. He pushed up again, the torn and stained overcoat flapping. Dean took a relieved breath when the coat opened to reveal brown drawstring pants and a faded sweater. The man staggered and landed with a dull oomph on the opposite seat. "Aw, fuck it."
"Nice," Sam murmured.
"At least he has clothes. Jangly Joe from two nights back didn't, remember."
"I'd rather forget."
Dean nudged his brother forward. He shadowed the younger man, aware of the cool steel against his left flank and the knife in the sheath against his calf. He stopped and glanced back. The drunk had passed out, head lolled back, mouth agape and spittle running a loose trail from the corner of one lip. His body rocked in time with the train's motion. Dean looked past him. The three youths that had shadowed their progression through the eight carriages of the commuter train now stood in a loose huddle near the drunk. Dean and Sam could not go back without going past them. Through them, Dean realized as the taller male folded his arms across his chest and raised his chin. The kid leered and white teeth sparkled against the dark tan. As tall as Sam, about the same age and just as well built. His cronies had lost out on the height genes, the shortest one barely scraped five feet six, his face thin with youthful arrogance.
"We can take them," Sam said, his voice low.
"We don't need the heat." He glanced at the security camera and felt Sam shift and brace as the train took a curve in the subway. Train wheels screeched, the high pitched whine almost deafening.
The drunk lurched sidewards and splayed out on the row of seats. The taller of the three youth sniggered, said something to his buddies then strolled over and pulled the drunk up by the collar. The screeching stopped as the track straightened out.
"Fuck, he's pissed himself."
One uncoordinated arm flailed. "Get… off."
"Make me." A sharp shake, deft twist and the drunk landed on the floor on all fours.
Dean felt Sam tense. He extended an arm and held him back. "Sam," he said, his tone cautioning. "Not our problem."
Dean maintained a neutral expression as the youth smirked at him, leaned over and rifled through the homeless man's pockets. Seemingly unperturbed by the stench and the pathetic efforts made to fend him off, the arrogant pick-pocket retrieved a folded piece of card and held it upright.
"Well, lookie here. Who's this fine piece of ass?"
Photograph, Dean surmised. An old one at that, the brief flashes as it passed from one ruthless palm to another revealed a faded black and white image. Sepia toned with age. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Someone well loved. Dean silently cursed and eyed the security camera as the haggard man made a futile swipe for the photo.
The youth stepped back, waved the card, laughing as the drunk lurched and sprayed spittle. Wild desperate eyes followed the image.
"Aw, such a little cutie. Damn, I'd bang her. She's screaming for a foursome." The photo was thrust forward then passed between the three sets of hands. Just out of reach, the laughter hard and high.
Dean felt Sam press closer, his brother's breath warm against the back of his neck. Dean side shuffled, keeping Sam behind him. He cocked his head at the maliciously smirking kid who now held the photo, poised to tear it. The train jolted and the harsh drone and thrumming vibration edged up the tension.
"You gonna stop me?" The kid started a tear in the small piece of card, his eyes firmly locked with Dean's.
Another swipe that unbalanced and the drunk fell to the floor, splayed out, no longer cursing. Alcohol had a vicious way of combining anger and sorrow into one bitter mix. The man had hit the harder edge and began sobbing. Dean's stomach knotted. One shaky weather aged hand caught the kid's lower leg and the fingers wrapped and held. The kid kicked out, cursing as he failed to dislodge the grasp.
Momentarily distracted, the photo dropped to one hand as the thug bent forward and punched at the downed man. Before he straightened, Dean had him in a head lock, one arm around his neck, the other grappled the photo from his fingers. He squeezed, minimizing oxygen and stilling the struggling youth. The other two men froze with mouths agape. One took a step backwards.
Dean shoved the photo at his brother then gestured to the fallen man. "Sam, get him out of here."
Sam glanced at him and nodded tightly. Dean waited until his brother had bundled the drunk into the next carriage before he shoved the kid against the door, briefly tightened his strangle-hold then let him go. He stepped back, hands fisted and shoulders tight.
"Are we going to have any problems?"
Defiance flickered and Dean tightened his jaw, hitched one hand to rest against his hip. The action leafed open his jacket to reveal the gun tucked in the waistband of his jeans.
"See that camera up there," he said as the kid stared at the gun. "Up there." He thumbed toward the camera. The kid looked up. "I see whatever it does, and directional mics pick up the slightest sound. You even take a piss in a corner and I will know about it."
The man's Adam's apple bobbed as he scanned the walls and ceiling.
"You can't see them, dumb-ass."
Aside from a tightening of the mouth and a stiffening of the shoulders, the younger man took the verbal reprimand without a retort. Dean glanced at the kid's buddies. Both avoided eye contact.
"Good," Dean said. He stepped back. "I'll hear if you fart too. So no farting. Place stinks enough as it is."
He moved toward the carriage Sam had disappeared into. A sudden jolt made him grab at an overhead handrail. Lights flickered. Another jolt, sharper and harder.
Dean cursed and pitched toward the narrowed space that separated the rear carriage from the rest of the train. He saw Sam for a brief moment, his lanky kid brother clutched, white knuckled in the centre of the carriage, hands braced against the seats. Their gaze locked. Dean's heart skipped as he took in the stiffened hunch, the tense jaw and the pained brightness in his little brother's eyes. Coal dark obliterated everything a fraction of a second later. Dean floundered, confused, the visual image torn away before he truly grasped what it meant. He took a blind step, thrown off balance as the train jerked and the floor rolled like quicksand. Dean flailed, yelping as he fell backwards and landed hard on his butt.
Steel on steel screeched – a long, drawn wail of tortured metal. Heated scent seared his nostrils and made him gag.Dean scrambled to his feet and floundered through the blackness for the interconnecting doors. His knuckles hit jackpot, sharp pain his reward. Cursing, he felt for the manual release, wrenched at it and shoved the doors open wide. Air buffeted his face and the squeal of heated brakes made him cover his ears. Staggering, he lurched and almost tumbled, barely able to think against the stunning racket. His knee slammed into something hard. Wincing, he altered course, and pushed into the next carriage.
Vibration through the floor licked and cinched the hairs on the back of his neck while the screaming sound pierced his eardrums. He grunted as he came up against a smooth surface. Shaking hands and too sensitive fingers struggled to make sense of it as images from research and dismissed theories slithered through his mind.
Train stops. Someone is taken. Weeks or months later, during routine maintenance, blood on the tracks, dessicated strips of meat, body parts. Suicide victims, the authorities determined, dismissed grieving relatives and re-opened the line time and time again. One per year hardly even newsworthy.
One hand hit the external door release and immediately recognized it. Pressure achieved no response. Prizing at the slit between the two leaves achieved the same. The train had not lost power – the doors firmly closed. He knew that even without touch. He would have heard the sound, and he had not. No-one could leave the train, at least not in any conventional way.
Train stops. Someone is taken.
Dean's skin prickled and a thought formed.
Blood on the tracks.
His breath froze in his lungs.
… pained brightness in his little brother's eyes.
Light pounded back with a sudden white hard intensity. Dean blinked and his thoughts splintered. He stared dumbly at the door. Face to face with his own slack-jawed, wide eyed, panic stricken reflection. He whirled. Locked on to the drunk who blinked, watery eyed, photo clutched in nicotine stained fingers. At the far end, a group of giggling teenagers, high on something and entirely unperturbed by what had just happened, continued chattering. Dean's blood pounded. He spun, wheeled in a full circle.
The kids stopped talking. The drunk drooled. Sound stopped.
He noticed then that the momentum had ceased. No sound. No movement.
He was moving before his mind catalogued it all – a frantic search of every row of seats, every place his brother could be. It all passed as a mindless blur and Dean found himself back at the door, staring at his own desolate reflection.
Darkness swirled beyond the carriage, thick and unforgiving. He pried at the door, a change in the resonance of vibration through the floor warning him that the train would soon move.
"He's gone. Like Melanie."
Dean's gaze snapped to the dull eyed drunk, the photo clutched in the older man's hand. Tears streaked his face. Dean ignored the emotional display and stared at the photo. Not black and white, but faded and worn from over-use.
"Gone," the man said and his words trailed off into incoherent rambling.
Dean withdrew the Glock, deftly flicked it off safety and fired into the door. Someone screamed, someone cursed and the door held. He exhausted the shells, threw the gun down and tried to pry the doors open. Greater than usual force kept them closed. He stared into the inky blackness, saw something move. Or thought he did.
"He's gone," the drunk said, his voice surprisingly clear. "You'll never get him back."
Blood on the tracks….
Dean's head swivelled, jerky and barely coordinated. The drunk stared at him with wetly glazed eyes. Dean struggled to breathe and grunted as the first hitch of movement pushed him slightly off balance.
"No!" He pounded against the door, spraying fine drops of blood against the glass. "C'mon, c'mon!"
… dessicated strips of meat….
He moved back and kicked out. The metal didn't even dent.
… body parts.
Grunting, he rammed the door with his shoulder and clenched his jaw against the resultant flare of pain. The drunk appeared beside him in a wafted haze of aged sweat, alcohol and despair. Dean glared at him.
"He was a nice kid," the man said, his tone genuinely sympathetic.
"He is a nice kid," Dean corrected hotly. He planted another solid kick to the door. Caught off balance as the train picked up speed, he fell, grunting as a horizontal bar caught him hard on his side. Winded, he dropped to his knees, his eyes burning with tears.
"You can have this carriage. That one's mine."
"I will get him back," he ground out, looking up.
"No you won't. No one does."
Dean jerked away from the man, one arm pressed against his throbbing side. He scrambled to the door, pressed hard against the glass as the train began to move.
Cupped hands blocked the internal light, transformed it into slivers as he stared at the tunnel wall. He saw it again: the briefest flash of wispy grey which could have been a trick of the eye or something else. He chose to believe it was something else – something he could hunt – something he could kill – some way to get his brother back.
It was now all he had.